isn't a choice and it doesn't happen every day. In fact, it can be a curse
—if you catch it.
You could be walking down the street and suddenly someone looks up from a cafe table and see you pulling your overcoat collar up and tight around your neck as you walk past. Maybe its the look on your face. The book in your hand. Some combination of the colors you wear up against the orange of a three PM in November. And then you are gone in the crowd. Or, to be more exact, they are gone. You're still walking down the street. Now, that didn't hurt a bit—you never even noticed.
But what if you had noticed, somehow. That would be a different thing all together. There's a story that goes that the barkeep at Humphrey Bogart's favorite dive thought he was a good old guy, but admitted that some nights, late in the evening after a few drinks, he'd get to thinking he was Bogart. Funny. I can see him leaning on the bar in a white coat, bourbon in hand. But that's nothing. After all Bogart was never really supposed to be perfect. It just worked out that way.
Imagine instead the plight of the star of a dazzling avant garde science fiction blockbuster. You know the story. Planet in trouble. Who can save it? The buckminster adventuresome male. But only with the beautiful young women—the perfect being born to save the world—at his side.
Back of the sound stage probably she stubs her toe on a backdrop frame and swears like a sailor. Coughs. Flirts with the key grip, but not anything like her pearly innocence technicolor mirage. More like a rough and tumble starlet ensuring that evening's hook up. Imagine her dancing frantically in the disco lights. Eyeliner smearing. Sweating like filly in short silk. High wearing off, drunk hammering. Desperately after that perfection—she sighed for in spite of herself—along with everyone else at the premier.
So its a problem. And probably not confined to movie stars and random sidewalkers. More than likely you have had this trouble too. Didn't someone once look at you once and you knew you were in some way, at that second, perfect? It lasted just to the second you knew, right? Then it crumbled under your clumsy thoughts and inept attempts to continue.
That knowledge killed the moment, but, buddy, it helped save you. Its a defensive mechanism. More deeply tuned than adrenaline. More engrained that a blink or breath. We destroy our perfection as rapidly as we discover it. Why? Well, its complicated. Goes back to basic Darwin and the species.
Take the long view. Imagine—what if everyone on this planet were perfect? Chaos? Far from it. Stasis, actually. Everything stops. Energy. Entropy. Everything. And when nothing moves everything dies. Here's the thing—how can you maintain perfect and still move? Still think? Its not possible. And if you freeze? Ok, maybe. But if everyone who found perfection realized it and froze, what then? Life, as we know it, ends soon enough.
Thus the rule. There is some amount of perfection beyond which no person can go. Sure, everyone has their own tolerance—like wine. But beyond that is the abyss. Certain death. And, please understand why—there is only so much the greater system can stand. The species is shaped by the environment. The individual is delimited by the species. And the person is trapped in imperfection.
So in a nod to the bio-mechanics of fate we have a highly evolved defense against our own transient perfection. Evolved to the degree that some of us never realize any perfection at all. At the same time some artists among us have the rare talent to portray an unattainable perfection. Beautiful. Perfect. How painful is that to see? We read those stories, watch those films over and over like addicts. But it all works out for the best.
And we can still dance and sweat with strangers under the spinning lights on Saturday nights.